The first thing you find upon arriving to El Escorial is the main
Façade. This has three doors: the middle one leads
to the Patio de los Reyes and the side ones lead to a school and
the other to a monastery. On the façade there is a niche
where the image of a saint has been placed. The Patio
de los Reyes is an enclosure that owes its name to the statues
of the Kings of Judah that adorn the façade of the Basílica,
located at the back, from which you can access from the patio. This
spectacular basilica has a floor in the shape of a Greek cross and
an enormous cupola inspired in San Pedro del Vaticano. The naves
are covered with canyon vaults decorated with frescoes by Lucas
Jordán. The large chapel is one of the highlights in the
basilica, presided by steps of red marble. Its main altarpiece is
30 meters high and divided in compartments of different sizes where
we find bronze sculptures and canvas authored by Tibaldi, Zuccaro
or Leoni. In the Capitulary and the Sacristy Rooms, painting such
as 'La Túnica de José' by Velázquez, 'La Última
Cena (The Last Supper)' by Tiziano, or 'La Adoración de la
Sagrada Forma por Carlos II (The Adoration by Carlos II of the Sacred
Form)' by Claudio Coello are on exhibit.
the royal chapel of the Basílica we find the Panteones
Reales. These are the place of burial for the kings of Spain.
It is an octagonal Baroque mausoleum made of marble where all of
the Spanish monarchs since Carlos I have been buried, with the exception
of Felipe V, Fernando de Saboya and Amadeo de Saboya. The remain
of Juan de Borbon, father of Juan Carlos I (Spain's current king),
also rest in this pantheon despite the fact he never came to rule.
The enclosure is presided by an altar of veined marble, and the
sarcaphogi are bronze and marble. We also find the Panteón
de los Infantes, where the bodies of the queens who did not have
a crowned succession and the princes and princesses were laid to
rest. This part was built in the 19th C.
visiting the Basílica, we can admire the Patio
de los Evangelistas. This is a gardened patio in whose center
rises a magnificent pavilion by Juan de Herrera in which you can
find sculptures of the Evangelistas. Around the patio are the galleries
of the main cloister, decorated with frescoes in which scenes from
the history of the Redemption are represented. In the East gallery,
you find the splendid main stair case with a frescoe-decorated vaulted
ceiling themed "the glory of the Spanish monarchy".
we can visit the Palacio de los Austrias,
also known as the Casa del Rey (House
of the King), which is found behind the presbytery of the basilica.
The outbuildings of this palace are distributed around the patio
of the Mascarones, of Italian style. Inside the House of the King
we can visit first of all the Sala de las Batallas (Hall of Battles),
which contains frescoes of the battles of San Quintín and
Higueruela, among others. The next building that we see contain
the rooms of Felipe II and of the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia.
Another interesting outbuilding is that of Alcoba del Rey, where
we can contemplate the bed in which Felipe II died.
on our visit, we will go to the Palacio de
los Borbones, which was ordered to be built by the house
of Bourbon upon seeing that the décor of the rooms of El
Escorial were too sober for the luxuries of his era. For that reason,
they preferred to reside in el Pardo, La Granja or Aranjuez. They
built the palace to the left of the basilica. Tapestries from the
Real Fábrica de Madrid are hung inside (many of them were
done over sketches made by Goya), spectacular crystal lamps, ornamental
cabinet work of extraordinary quality, frescoed ceilings, etc.,
giving a result dignified of the luxuries of the age. Unfortunately,
today the Palacio de los Borbones is closed to the public.
the vaulted cellars of El Escorial, a series of museums
have been installed such as the one Architecture
where you can peruse the construction plans of the Monastery, 3D
models and some of the tools that were used. You can also find the
museum of painting, where works by
El Greco, Zurbarán, Ribera, Tintoretto, Tiziano, Rubens or
El Veronés are on display.
of the most surprising places on the visit to El Escorial is the
Library, which is located on the second
floor. The Doric wooden bookcases sit on a marble pedestal. Surprisingly,
the books are placed on the cases with the spines toward the inside,
permitting the pages to air. The canyon vaulted ceiling is decorated
with frescoes by Tibaldo, inspired by Michaelangelo. Besides its
ornamentation, the importance of the place lies in its collection,
which includes more than 40,000 publications and some 2,600 manuscripts
from the 5th to the 18th century. We also find a set of glass cases
in the middle of the room in which valuable codexes like a miniature
copy of the Cantigas de Santa María de Alfonso X el Sabio,
or autographed works by Santa Teresa de Jesús.
the end of our journey, we will visit the Casita
del Príncipe (Prince's little house), also called
the Casita de Abajo (the house below). It is a small palace which
was ordered by Carlos III for his son, Prince Carlos. The interest
of the building resides in its decoration rather than the architecture
itself. Decorated with the same luxury that the Bourbons employed,
it is a palace in miniature containing extraordinary beauty through
its floors, furniture, paintings and sculptures.
we end the trip by visiting the nearby Silla
de Felipe II (Chair of Felipe II). It is a boulder located
on a nearby mountain, which Felipe II had crafted in order to sit
there and be able to follow the work on the monastery during its
construction. Today, it is in a perfect state and is perfectly marked.
Whoever sits on it can enjoy an exceptional panoramic view of the
El Escorial complex.